An interview with Jim Dé, director of our partner Shishu Sangopan Griha (SSG) in Delhi, India. Jim shares how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting Holt-sponsored children and their families in Delhi, and how sponsors and donors are helping to meet their most urgent needs — especially now, during the country’s deadly second wave.
How is the pandemic currently affecting Holt-sponsored children and families in Delhi?
We saw a huge surge between the month of April and July/August 2020 and then we saw a huge tapering down of the situation and people were getting back to work. So I think the first couple of months in 2020 at least to the middle of the year was pretty difficult for lots of families. And then by Aug/Sept, we saw people getting back to work.
However, the sad thing is that in 2021, it’s back to a bigger bang than in 2020. We are seeing a huge surge in the number of cases and it seems like every second house is affected with COVID. This is an extremely precarious situation right now. …
Why we don’t give your $39 monthly sponsorship donation directly to your sponsored child’s family or caregivers, and how Holt uses your money to help your sponsored child instead.
Every month, you faithfully send your $39 to your sponsored child … Sort of.
Technically, you send your gift to Holt International, trusting that we will properly steward your money and direct it to your sponsored child. While we do on occasion give cash directly to families to meet immediate identified needs, we don’t actually give your sponsored child and his or her family $39 in cash or check each month.
Why, you ask? Wouldn’t our sponsorship program be just as effective if we simply wrote a check each month?
In India, and in developing countries around the world, the COVID-19 crisis has significantly increased the risk of child marriage. But one key factor continues to make a dramatic difference in the lives of vulnerable girls and young women: child sponsorship.
Rani* was just 17. She did not want to get married. She argued and pleaded with her mom. She asked her social worker to convince her mom to delay her marriage. Rani knew her mom was struggling to support her and her two little sisters. If she got married, it would ease the burden on her family.
“My mom has always been under stress due to conservative traditions at home,” Kiran says of her mom, who cries today when she thinks of all that Kiran has achieved. “She could not take education or choose her partner on her own, and had to live life on other’s terms and conditions.” Continue reading “The Life She Dreamed Of”
Children and families in India are in crisis due to a second wave of COVID-19. Jim De, the director of Shishu Sangopan Griha (SSG) — Holt’s partner organization in Delhi — filmed this video to share more about what’s happening and how to help.
The question our sponsorship staff encounters most frequently is, “Can I write my sponsored child?”
We think this is a fantastic question! It shows that you take your sponsorship seriously — often sending positive thoughts or prayers to your sponsored child, and wondering how he or she is doing. Your desire to connect with your sponsored child is one that warms our hearts — and your sponsored child’s, too!
Generally, the answer is yes, you can write your sponsored child. But, there are a few stipulations, mostly designed to ensure your sponsored child and his or her family remain safe and successful in our programs.
When all seemed lost, Holt donors provided the food families in India needed to survive.
Several months ago, terrible rains fell in southern India. Entire villages flooded, and thousands of children and families were suddenly in crisis. But perhaps some of the most affected were the migrant families…
In southern India, Holt donors help support families that have recently migrated from their villages in the countryside to the big city of Bengaluru in the south. Many of these families don’t even have their basic needs met while they look for work in the city, and try to build a new life.
But when the floods came, everything got even worse. They didn’t have much to begin with, but now they had nothing.
More than anything, these children and families needed food to get through the first days of the crisis.
And right when they needed it, Holt donors stepped up to help — providing emergency food to 250 families in greatest need.
You helped send warm lentil curry, vegetables and hard-boiled eggs especially for the children — vital protein to fill their bellies and help keep them from getting sick.
Thank you for helping families in their time of greatest need. When all seems dark, your generosity is a warm light.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented amount of stress and anxiety — especially among children and families in Holt programs around the world. Learn how Holt’s on-the-ground team in Pune, India is helping to address this mental health crisis and protect the overall wellbeing of sponsored kids and families.
In India's slum communities, families as large as six or seven share a single-room, 100-square-foot home. Homes are stacked and crowded and feel more like a storage unit, with only one door to the outside.
Before the pandemic, children living in the slums of Pune, India would spend most of their days outside the home — either at school or playing in the narrow alleyways between buildings.
Few families have electricity or plumbing. Communities of 200 or more people share a single water facet and public restroom area. Women wash clothes and dishes and bathe their children in buckets in the alleys outside.
When COVID hit in early spring 2020, Holt donors responded with emergency donations — making it possible to distribute over 1,033 kits of emergency food and lifesaving medications to families living in Pune slums. For many families, these emergency supplies meant the difference between life and death.
After meeting emergency needs, our on-the-ground team in Pune began to address an issue not as dire as food and medicine, but just as critical to the overall wellbeing of children and families: mental and emotional health.
“The children's movement were restricted,” explains Vaishali Vahikar, sponsorship program director in Pune. “They were made to sit inside the houses, which created panic situation all around and lot of confusion in the minds of children.” Siblings fought. Kids got restless. Parents lashed out at their kids, and kids clashed with parents.
Social workers began calling families on a regular basis. "We would talk to the children, to the parents, about how they are coping,” explains Vaishali. “How are their economic issues? How emotionally are they supporting each other? Are there any other issues that are creating uneasiness in the family? We talk about what things are in your control, which things can you cope with alone and [for] which things do you think you need external support.”
Activities normally held in person, like a summer camp pictured here, they began to offer online — connecting via cell phones Holt donors provided so children could attend school online. They held digital camps for kids and training sessions for parents to improve communication with their children.
“We asked children, ‘What changes do you find after your mothers have been attending these classes?’" says Vaishali. "And the children were very happy to say, ‘Now my mother seems to be understanding us more.’
In a recent letter to Holt sponsors who support children in Pune, Vaishali wrote, “We see a ray of hope as gradually everyone has accepted to live with COVID as a new normal. Parents have slowly started going back to work. Children are adjusting to the online education system. And most of all, you continue to support your sponsored child, which brings so much hope to their life.”
When India imposed a nationwide lockdown early in the pandemic, families across the country went into crisis. But nowhere more so than in the impoverished slum communities where Holt-sponsored children and families live. Under strict quarantine measures, they could not leave their homes for work or school or even to go to the grocery store. They had no income, minimal savings, and very quickly ran out of food. Some had a limited supply of lifesaving medications. Some went days without anything to eat. Continue reading “COVID-19’s Global Impact on Children: Mental Health”
An interview with Vaishali Vahikar, sponsorship director, and Nandini Sundaramurthy, executive director at Bharatiya Samaj Seva Kendra (BSSK), Holt’s partner in Pune, India.
How is the pandemic affecting children and families in Holt sponsorship?
Vaishali: The children didn’t know why all these restrictions were being put on them. We had to start with telling them how corona spreads and how one should take precautions like putting on masks, washing their hands, sanitizing. If you’re out of house, you have to sanitize again when you come inside. So our initial work was more on educating the families regarding all the precautions one should take to prevent from getting infection. Continue reading “How COVID-19 is Affecting Sponsored Kids in Pune, India: A Q&A With BSSK”